Surviving the Sea to Sky commute | Squamish Chief

Surviving the Sea to Sky commute

“How’s the commute going?”

That’s a question I’ve had to field on a weekly basis ever since starting a new job in downtown Vancouver a couple of months ago. Despite how fast it’s growing as a community, Squamish unfortunately doesn’t have enough employment for each and every one of its citizens.

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The lucky ones who do have jobs in the area get to arise a little later than everyone else – maybe take the kids to school – then take their time and leisurely make their way downtown without worrying about traffic.

Well, actually that’s not true for everyone, I bet. When I worked in Squamish, I still hit that snooze button way too many times and more often than not, found myself racing to get to work anyway. And getting the kids to school?

Why is it when you tell your kid it’s time to get dressed and ready for school, they interpret that as orders to stand zombified in front of the TV with one sock dangling forlornly in their hands? But the point is, you fortunate folk with work in Squamish don’t have to commute. For the rest of us, either headed to the resort Disneyland of Whistler or making our way down to Vancouver every morning, we have to contend with “The Big Drive.”

So, for those who may be contemplating a job outside of Squamish, or about to start regularly driving the Sea to Sky Highway, here’s what I’ve learned so far about commuting.

Getting there

There are a few options for commuting to Vancouver or Whistler. A few years ago, the good old reliable Greyhound was really easy and convenient for reaching both destinations every day. However, since they decided those particular routes weren’t profitable, I don’t know anyone using the bus these days. So, for most commuters, it’s either taking a car solo, riding with a friend or perhaps getting into one of those Jack Bell rideshare cars or vans.

Personally, I ride with a friend who works really close to my place of employment in Vancouver. It’s cheaper than riding solo in your car, and you have someone to chat with along the way. I’m not sure I’d fit in to a rideshare vehicle because I’m the chatty sort (except when I don’t want to be), so I’m sure I’d get on someone’s nerves after a while.

Travelling companions

Actually, I was a bit worried that commuting every day, back and forth, with a good friend might put a strain on the friendship, but so far it’s been pretty good. Well, except we once got into a conversation about The Eagles and found out we’re on opposite sides concerning their worth as a musical act. So, my advice if you’re not going to commute solo is to find someone you get along with who has similar interests, and who you don’t mind is completely out of touch with reality concerning The Eagles.

The Big Drive

For the commute itself, make sure you and your travelling companion(s) are all on the same page regarding departure and pickup times. My buddy and I start at the same time, so we leave (mostly) on time. He’s a dad, too, so sometimes the zombified children get in the way and we leave a little late. He finishes a little later than I do, as well, which is OK because there’s a lovely little pub around the corner from my office and I wait for him while sipping a Guinness (or two) and watching the game on a big screen TV. My wife says I always come home in a “great mood,” but I’m starting to fear all the extra money I’m earning is going into a pint glass now.

Along with making sure you have similar schedules, you also have to make sure you have similar tastes in radio or conversation. I’m pretty fortunate because my commuting pal Jesse can chat about pretty much any subject (he’s kind of like Google) and we both like to listen to CBC Radio in the morning for news and political commentary. And with the exception of The Eagles – which as we’ve already established he is wrong about – we have a very similar taste in music as well. So, our drives are filled with good conversation and great music… although never any Eagles.

The other thing to contend with is the time of day you commute. So far, we’ve been leaving at a time when other people commute, so it’s smooth sailing going down, and we leave a bit later than the rush hour, so we slip across the Lions Gate Bridge just as easily on our way home at night. However, if we leave 15 minutes later in the morning, or alter our time getting out of the city, we always get hit with snarled traffic and a long wait. So, getting your timing right is also key to a painless commute. So is coffee… everyone has to have had at least one coffee in the morning before pickup.

To answer the question every one has been asking me: The commute is going fine. It’s actually not that long a drive, and I get to enjoy the scenic beauty of Howe Sound every blessed day. I mean, things could be worse… Jesse could hate Led Zeppelin, and then I’d have to drive solo.

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